Archive for Monday, July 15, 2013

Editorial: Budget balance

County officials must weigh many budget priorities, but controlling the burden on county taxpayers should be closer to the top.

July 15, 2013


The price of government is going up.

Unless something presumably unexpected happens at a public hearing July 31, Douglas County will approve a budget for the coming year that will raise property taxes by around 4.8 percent. It’ll be too bad if that happens.

In a struggling local economy, with downsizing and layoffs still occurring, with Kansas University taking it in the shorts from the state, with Haskell Indian Nations University getting hit by the sequester, and with exorbitant residential and small-business utility increases on the table, the county got a pleasant surprise when the assessed valuation of property on which it could levy taxes remained stable. It would have been possible to maintain the status quo of the property tax burden on county residents, but instead the elected commissioners decided to implement a tax hike so they could address what they saw as important needs.

Of course arguments can be made in favor of the programs and decisions that swelled the tax burden.

Certainly some employees deserve raises, including a budgeted 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment: $821,000. Taxpayers who recently lost jobs or took pay cuts no doubt concur.

Boosting the local community corrections program: $109,513. Not to detract from the value of surveillance officers, but how are priorities determined and balanced?

Picking up the slack from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for lab tests for sexually transmitted diseases: $20,470. Thanks, governor and Legislature. Why’s that now a county responsibility?

Creating a contingency fund to continue positions financed by grant money if other state support evaporates: $130,000. Well, well. Shouldn’t all of us taxpayers have such contingency money readily at hand in case of tax increases?

Joe and Jane Taxpayer seem, in fact, to be the forgotten parties in budget considerations. But, maybe all the largesse from the reduction in the state sales tax — oh, yeah, that didn’t really happen. Well, maybe that decrease in the state income tax — you say it doesn’t affect everyone the same?

The county, of course, has to evaluate programs and determine spending priorities, but the top priority should be not placing an additional burden on county taxpayers.


Larry Moss 9 months ago

More and More the nanny state is leaving us. That's good! If Counties and Cities want to continue funding for certain things they can. They just have to fund them. Others don't want to or at least not to the degree some others do. That's good too. Instead of one size fits all, it's each to his own, by his own.

Get the federal and State government out of it, lower their taxes and leave it to each community to raise and spend taxes as they see fit.


bevy 9 months ago

I am still so flabbergasted by the use of the phrase "taking it in the shorts" in this award-winning newspaper's editorial that I cannot muster any energy to make a comment about the other points being made in it.


George Lippencott 9 months, 1 week ago

Thank you for standing up for those of us on fixed incomes. The insatiable appetite of our various lawgivers is hard on us.

When I was younger the decision to raise taxes was usually undertaken with some effort at consensus. There was a need for civic leadership to demonstrate need to obtain buy in by a significant majority or the leaders would be quickly retired.

Today we have formula to determine just how much tax should be extracted from the citizens. Those formulas consider, among other things, the annual income increases of the majority of the citizens.

We are blessed with two large government entities that , despite howls to the contrary, have rewarded their employees with total income increases that are on average considerably greater than inflation

When the tax man takes $100 of the $500 annual increase in income one is much more accepting of the increase – in a sense sharing your gain with others. Unfortunately, those of us not working for the government have nor shared in their beneficence.

No amount of rational dialogue will dissuade our tax determiners as they have studies that show that on average the tax payers can afford and will accept the increase. They care not about those of us with below average income gains.

I cannot help but wonder if such an attitude might have something to do with our shrinking private sector where data shows that the average employee is not keeping up with inflation let alone seeing an improvement in their financial condition from which the tax man could benefit with less pain.

The first thing one needs to consider when applying the recommendations of studies is that the study in fact represents the reality of the conditions found on the ground


toe 9 months, 1 week ago

Taxes will always be raised here without care. The preponderance of government workers guarantees it. They do not care about non-government workers. In fact, they loath them.


cheeseburger 9 months, 1 week ago

As long as Nancy has her half-mil to waste on her pet projects.


Karl_Hungus 9 months, 1 week ago

Hey, being rich and staying rich takes lots of money...that is why Brownback and his ilk have started to milk us like little Gaylord Fockers to pay for their lifestyles of champagne wishes and caviar dreams......this state has turned to crap....have been appling for jobs out of state, hope to move!!!


jafs 9 months, 1 week ago

With the state cutting services, the choice for local cities and counties is to similarly cut services, or raise taxes to maintain them.

It will be very unfortunate if people get upset with the local areas, rather than understanding that decisions at the state level put them in that position.


Lynn731 9 months, 1 week ago

I wish they would consider retired persons, living on fixed incomes. We are being taxed out of our homes, that we worked most of our life for. We planned on staying in our homes until we pass on, but not if these people keep raising taxes. I wish they would do away with property taxes completely, and raise the sales tax so everyone would pay their fair share. As property owners we are constantly penalized for working hard all our lives, so we have a nice home and car. I am sick and tired of having to bear the burden for overzealous, unfair raises in property taxes. Every time they raise the taxes, we have to give up something we need, like food and medicines. Jim Flory apparently is the only one on our side, God Bless him.


oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

What? Taxpayers who lost jobs and did not get raises D O NOT concur!


oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

Same goes for the city and school district, but to no avail. The do not care. It was the county that threw away $5,000 to the Castle tea room for marketing. J W never tackled that waste.


oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

Same goes for the city and school district, but to no avail. They do not care!


Commenting has been disabled for this item.